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What Would You Do?

We've all been in crazy situations and I want to know how you handle entertaining fiascoes and bad restaurant behavior. I'll present a situation and you tell me what you would do. Here's this week's scenario: You're hosting an intimate dinner party for 12 of your friends. You've been planning for weeks and no detail is spared. The food is exquisitely prepared and a pitcher of cocktails waits to be poured. The house is immaculately clean and the mood enhanced by tons of glowing candles.

To promote mingling and conversation, you took the time to create a seating arrangement with place cards — separating those couples who are always together — so unacquainted guests can become new friends. Everyone arrives and the party is going fabulously until one of your girlfriends pulls you aside. She says,"I hope you don't mind, I moved some of the names on the table around so I can sit next to my boyfriend." What would you do?

To see what I did in this situation — true story, it's happened to me! —


I smiled politely and told my friend that I had spent time putting together the seating chart. I reminded her that it was my party and my house and asked her to kindly respect my rules and feelings. I also explained why I had chosen not to seat her next to her boyfriend. I filled her cocktail and excused myself. I went into the dining room and changed the place cards back to the arrangement I created.

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lexichloe lexichloe 8 years
The fact of the matter is, if your guests want to mingle w/ the other invited guests, they'll do it on their own terms. I feel the need for a host to invent a seating chart already implies that she knows the guests won't intermingle willingly...hence, they aren't meant to be at the same shin-dig.
laurelm laurelm 8 years
a hostess should always make her guests comfortable- it should be top priority furthermore, i would not separate couples, i dont need to be attached to my husband's hip, but i sit next to him when we have dinners together, sheesh i think it was rude and if your guest asked, prob took lots of courage and i would not return as a guest when i could not even sit to who i wanted to sit next to!
jJuliet jJuliet 8 years
I would have let my friend sit next to her boyfriend, then rearranged the other place cards to put the other couples together too (so that it wasn't just one couple together and the rest separated). I would want my friends to have a good time at the party and not create an awkward situation.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 8 years
I would never host a party where I had a seating chart. It's unnatural and it just makes things awkward. I'd just make introductions and make sure that everyone knew each other and get conversations flowing but allow people to sit next to whomever they choose.
animalrightschik animalrightschik 8 years
I would have left the party if the hostess tried to tell me who I could, and could not sit next to. I always hated those "get to know each other" games played in school, and this seems no different. The whole idea seems a bit too controlling. If you are having an adult dinner party, you should treat your guests like adults and allow them to choose where they sit.
NadiaPotter NadiaPotter 8 years
it was rude of her part to move the cards ! very rude... in fact it sound a little weird to me the thing you did Yum, Fair because it was your party and they only have to sit like that for dinner... and maybe if the table wasn't round... I am 100% with seat arrangements, but still When I did it I did put cuples together. But like limelindsey said, they are like rules or something like that, it was your dinner party and not hers
orisugar orisugar 8 years
I wouldn't get borthered...i'm not anal about this kinda stuff. I wouldn't have made name tags anyway, i think it's a bit if a controlling-i want to play god- attitude.
GrapeBubbleGum GrapeBubbleGum 8 years
I'm quite shy and I would be incredibly uncomfortable if I went to a dinner party and was forced not to sit by my boyfriend. I understand the rationale behind it, but if I wanted help getting over my social insecurities, I'd go talk to a therapist or something. I'd hope that my friend would have known this in the first place and wouldn't have done this to me. So, I guess I wouldn't have been in your shoes because, knowing how I'd feel about having to be seperated from my social security blanket, I wouldn't have seperated people in the first place. If it was something, suppose I unintentionally put them next to someone that they didn't get along with, I'd probably move things around. I like to plan ahead, but I also plan for things to always go a little rocky and not 100% to plan.
mlmoreno47 mlmoreno47 8 years
Seating arrangements feel a little stiff. My formal side loves them but I would be annoyed if I were forced to sit away from my boyfriend. Often he is the only person I'm interested in talking to anyway, but I'm mean. ;)
DCStar DCStar 8 years
I don't like separating couples, and wouldn't do that. Also, if somebody rearranged my seating so she could sit next to her boyfriend, I'd let it be, and worry about other stuff (like the food!). It sounds like you're a bit to obsessed with seating arrangements! I know that Miss Manners seems to think seating arrangements are all important, but I'd rather have my guests happy.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
seating arrangements are so "70's swinger party" i cant stand them. If You cant talk to new people around a table while sitting next to your boyfriend or husband something is wrong with you.
limelindsey limelindsey 8 years
Does anyone remember the part in Pride and Prejudice when Lizzie is visiting the Collins' and they dine with Lady Catherine? When they sit down to dinner, Mr Collins tries to sit next to his wife and Lady Catherine yells at him - "you cannot sit next to your wife Mr Collins! Move!" I think traditionally, spouses/significant others do not sit next to each other at meals, in order to encourage conversation and new acquaintance. I kind of think everyone is making a big deal out of this. Obviously Party worked really hard to plan and execute all the details of her party and I think it was pretty rude of the guest to assume it was an oversight on the hostess' part that they weren't seated together. I would never dream of moving placecards around. It's better to have an open mind about this kind of thing. Just my 2 pennies!
ElleJay ElleJay 8 years
I have to agree that a lot of people seem REALLY close minded about this. Dinner doesn't last ALL night, it's just one part. There was only 12 people- it's not like anyone was sitting at seperate tables. How is sitting a couple chairs away from your man so frightening? Wow...
geebers geebers 8 years
Im really shocked at how many people are against being seperated for a FEW HOURS from their significant others. People-seriously? How difficult is it to not be attached at the hip to your guy? I DO think Yum could have handled it nicer. Maybe say "I understand why you did that but I actually wanted to seperate couples on purpose for tonight. Let's try that and see how it works- if everyone absolutely is uncomfortable we can rearrange. Cool?"
Hill82879 Hill82879 8 years
If I was the guest and my host(ess) talked to me like I was in kindergarten, I'm pretty sure I would have left.
macgirl macgirl 8 years
I think I would panic if I noticed I wasn't by my husband. Not that I can't go an hour without having him at my side- i'm just a bit socially awkward at times and don't love being around new people. I would be miserable being surrounded by people I didn't know. If I knew everyone really well then it wouldn't be an issue at all. But that's probably just me and my anxiety issues ;-)
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 8 years
Well all of our friends know one another really. But to answer the question, I would probably end up rolling my eyes at her and telling her that WASN"T what the point of the seating arrangement was, but I would let it go and tell her next time leave things alone.
megan921 megan921 8 years
I think that if a hostess wants to mix up couples that should by all means be respected. The dinner is only part of the evening, there are obvioulsy cocktails before and most likely mingling afterwards where guests can sit/stand next to their signficants. I sort of feel like everyone who would be mad if they couldn't sit next to their boyfriend/husband is being a bit closed-minded. While I agree that you want your guests to be "comfortable" I think that the girl was very out of line to move placecards around. There is nothing wrong with stepping out of your comfort zone, especially if the hostess is hoping to foster new friendships and conversations outside of the "same-old". As someone who has probably put equal time into preparing for parties/dinners, I would be so frustrated if someone moved my seating (or any other element of the party) around. And for people who don't ever see their boyfriends and are using someone else's dinner party as an opportunity to catch up with him, you probably should have declined in the first place.
bethmass bethmass 8 years
Very rude as a hostess. Your primary intent should be to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome in your home. I understand the desire to encourage mingling but separating couples is bizarre. I actually rarely get to see my boyfriend and if someone purposely seated me away from him I would think it were oddly contrived and annoying. Your response to your guest was petulant and lacking in grace, and I am sure she is dreading any future invitations that may come from you.
ChicaCity ChicaCity 8 years
lexi - i noticed that too - it says everyone is new! and i don't know that i would split the couples unless it was going to be awkward for the singles.
anniekim anniekim 8 years
on a side note--I think the photo that goes with the story is pretty funny. Not only is she an ungracious guest, she also wears see-through clothing!
anniekim anniekim 8 years
I think a dinner party with place cards is a perfectly acceptable and standard set up. Guests should behave in accordance with their host's wishes. Your friend moving her card may have worked out for her, but she also had to move some one else and that might not work for that person she chose to move. Each host will handle seating arrangements according to her/his own style and the occasion. It seems like basic proper etiquette as a guest to respect this.
lexichloe lexichloe 8 years
One other thing, what's up w/ all the new members commenting for their first times on THIS post? Strange, not?
lexichloe lexichloe 8 years
So, what happened, Yum? Did the night go smoothly?
ufshutterbabe ufshutterbabe 8 years
You handled it well, but I would always rather seat couples together. The most important job as a hostess is to see that your guests are comfortable - seems like more people feel comfortable sitting next to their partner. If I was the guest, I would probably decline future invitations to your dinner parties and sit-down events (I'd still be there at a cocktail party though!). My free time is valuable, I don't get to see my partner enough as it is. I'd be interested to see a poll on what sugar readers prefer as a guest - sitting next to their parter or apart.
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